Web. The final frontier. These are the voyages of a caffeine-infused web developer. My continuing mission: To explore everything social media related. To seek out new ways to make the web better, and accessible by all. To boldly go where everyone has gone before!
WCAG 2.0, 508 Compliance, and Web Accessibility
In the web development arena, these words cause panic, eye rolling, and other scary emotions. Although these reactions are a bit over-the-top, the fact is that most people either aren’t advocates of web accessibility or they don’t really understand what it means. Whether you’re a web developer or a small business owner, web accessibility simply means developing your website so that it is usable by all people, regardless of abilities or disabilities.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 is the work of the Web Accessibility Initiative. This document does not conform to web standards in practice today and is not clearly written. Any web developer who is standards-compliant will find it nearly impossible to implement WCAG2.
Section 508 Compliance
In 1998, the United States Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act requiring Federal agencies to make all electronic information accessible to those with disabilities. Federal agencies must give accessible-compliant information to everyone; employees and the public. The goal of updating this act is to remove barriers in information technology, provide new opportunities to those with disabilities, and to encourage development of new technologies that help achieve these goals.
Web accessibility is an all-encompassing term for building websites that everyone can use without restriction regardless of ability or disability. Web accessibility includes:
- Visual Impairments – including blindness, low eye sight, and color blindness
- Auditory Impairments
- Seizures – seizures induced by strobe or flashing effects
- Mobility – tremors, motor control, loss of fine motor control
- Cognitive Impairments – learning disabilities like dyslexia, problem solving
Making the Web a Better Place
There are certain actions you can take to make your website more web accessible, including:
- Using alt tags on all graphical elements to provide alternate text for screen readers
- Designing HTML documents to be readable without a CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) file
A complete checklist can be found at W3C.
There are several web accessibility testing utilities out there to help achieve a higher level of compliance.
Moral of the Story
In 2006, a class action lawsuit was brought by the National Federation of the Blind against Target. A settlement was reached and Target agreed to pay damages of up to $6 million, which would then be distributed by the NFB to individuals affected by the inaccessibility of target.com. Now that the spotlight is on web accessibility we should create a better experience for all, including desktop, and mobile.
Live long and prosper.